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Whose value is it anyway? A neo-institutionalist approach to articulating and evaluating artistic value

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The neo-liberal agenda that has dominated the creative industries for the past few decades has engendered a range of problems for artists, arts managers and policy-makers. This article critiques the application of commercial strategic management and marketing tools, theory and principles to arts and cultural organizations and proposes alternative approaches to assist these organizations in creating, identifying and evaluating value on their own terms and in line with their artistic missions and objectives. The solutions proposed are generated by an application of the literature on arts management and evaluation, cultural policy and sociology and through a qualitative study of audiences’ articulations of value. The article reports and analyses the responses of 34 semi-structured in-depth interviews on the value of theatre with participants drawn from audiences in the United Kingdom and Australia. It highlights the discrepancies between the instrumental methods of evaluating value imposed on arts organizations by governments and the personal, intrinsic insights provided by audiences themselves. It argues ultimately for a neo-institutionalist and creative approach to articulating artistic value, which would evaluate organizational performance in line with artistic objectives. In so doing, it makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about cultural value, and proposes a creative, alternative evaluation framework for artists, arts managers, arts marketers and cultural policy-makers.
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Keywords: arts management; arts marketing; cultural policy; cultural value; neo-institutionalism; strategic management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Leeds

Publication date: 01 December 2012

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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